You are hereDoes Covenant Eschatology Have Anything To Offer As A Response To The Democrat Agenda For Stem Cell Research?

Does Covenant Eschatology Have Anything To Offer As A Response To The Democrat Agenda For Stem Cell Research?

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By Mick - Posted on 08 December 2006

by Mickey Denen
Introduction

I believe it does. In the kingdom established as a result of the Parousia of Christ, life would be made available through the leaves and fruit of the tree. The leaves would bring healing to the nations (Rev 22.2). I believe this passage requires us to take a strong “pro-life” position. I propose this pro-life position has a different understanding than the contemporary “modern Christian” view or the contemporary “post-modern” western cultural view. This view incorporates the right to life of the unborn, the infirmed and the aged whom modern and post-modern western society would dispose of, if these individuals were unwanted or perceived to be non-contributors to society. Covenant Eschatology, I propose, would also permit the use of technologies to heal the nations in all dimensions of life, not just spiritually, but economically, socially, emotionally and physically. The Greek word used in Revelation 22.2 means a service rendered from one to another. It could be medical, as this is where we get the word therapy, but can refer to any way one person attends or ministers to the needs of another.Introduction

I believe it does. In the kingdom established as a result of the Parousia of Christ, life would be made available through the leaves and fruit of the tree. The leaves would bring healing to the nations (Rev 22.2). I believe this passage requires us to take a strong “pro-life” position. I propose this pro-life position has a different understanding than the contemporary “modern Christian” view or the contemporary “post-modern” western cultural view. This view incorporates the right to life of the unborn, the infirmed and the aged whom modern and post-modern western society would dispose of, if these individuals were unwanted or perceived to be non-contributors to society. Covenant Eschatology, I propose, would also permit the use of technologies to heal the nations in all dimensions of life, not just spiritually, but economically, socially, emotionally and physically. The Greek word used in Revelation 22.2 means a service rendered from one to another. It could be medical, as this is where we get the word therapy, but can refer to any way one person attends or ministers to the needs of another.Biology 101

First, I will review some basic mammalian biology. Sexual reproduction involves the uniting of two haploid cells, gametes, which contain half the number of chromosomes as typical cell for that organism. The union of these two gametes normally produces a unique individual, with the typical number of chromosomes for that species, genetically discrete from the parents who produced the gametes. The creation of this new individual required the single female source gamete, egg, and the selection of one male source gamete, sperm cell, out of typically thousands. Why one male source gamete is selected over another is unknown at this time and I would argue is within the providence of God. The new individual begins to exist at the moment the gametes unite. In humans this typically occurs in the fallopian (uterine) tube. Within a few days, implantation in the human uterus occurs and a multicellular human exists with all of the genetic material of an adult human. I would argue human life exists from the point the gametes unite, as all of the criteria for life exits, namely the ability to reproduce and have metabolism. To deny the existence of human life at this point is to bastardize the biological definition of life and what defines humanity from a genetic point of view. The union of human gametes is the way God designed humans to reproduce. Finally, allow me to describe current methods used for mammalian cloning.

Cloning

Cloning of mammalian cells is currently performed using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). This process involves taking a mature diploid cell from a donor mammal. This donor cell, which contains all of the genetic information or the donor organism, can come from any tissue in the body. This donor cell has its nucleus removed. This donor cell nucleus is placed an enucleated egg cell from a female of the same species. By this process the donor cell nucleus goes back in time, essentially forgetting the specialization it underwent, and reverting back to it primitive undifferentiated state. When this egg with the genetic material from the donor mammal is placed in a uterus that is properly prepared for implantation, the egg will go thorough the typical process of cell division and differentiation ultimately resulting in a new infant mammal with the same genetic material as the original donor mammal. This was the method used to clone the sheep, “Dolly.” Notice this new mammal was made not through a God ordained process but through a man-made process using the raw materials which God originally supplied. Notice that the donor egg is considered by nature as disposable, unfertilized eggs are routinely disposed of as part of female mammal’s menstrual cycle. The donor cell likewise could come from a tissue that frequently sheds cell, like skin, and be donated with no harm to the donor mammal.

Man’s Creative Nature

Man often tries to duplicate God’s creative nature as part of daily existence. I believe this is a fraction of what it means to be made in God’s image. Examples of this human creative nature is particularly found in music where we try to reproduce to sounds of God’s creation; art where we try to reproduce God’s creation on canvas, plaster, and other media. The nuclear engineer strives to solve the energy crisis of future by duplicating what God has done millions of times when she tries to fuse to hydrogen atoms to make helium and produce to energy release of the stars. Biological science and medical science unite in the desire to solve the problem of infertility amongst couples. There is likely no logical explanation for the desire that exists within many couples to have a child from their own “loins.” This desire exists and scientists have succeeded in duplicating God’s methods of bringing two human gametes together sometimes inside a woman’s body; sometimes outside her body. When this process occurs outside the woman’s body it is referred to in-vitro fertilization. I believe as Christians we should have no objection to this process in the same way we do not object to the Fine Arts or “cold nuclear fusion”, as long as immoral outcomes do not result.

The Dilemmas of Science and Philosophy

The difficulty in this discussion arises when we leave the simple biology of reproduction and move to the philosophical and spiritual aspects of human existence. Biology is not helpful in this discussion since it is only interested in that which can be observed and measured. Biology does cloud the picture some when we consider the case of identical twins. Identical twins start as a single cell from the union of a male source gamete and a female source gamete. Then presumably at the two-cell stage it becomes two individuals. Biology can not answer the question when the soul was inserted into the two individuals with identical genetic material. I am unaware of any theologian, philosopher or medial ethicist who argues they were both present in the single cell then split. If the souls were inserted at the two cell stage for twins, then why not the two cell stage for the singular pregnancy? The biology of twins raises some spiritual questions that are difficult to answer.

The difficulties in medicine, from my perspective, are determining when the “breath of life” enters and exits the biological organism, as this has been the traditional understanding of when we become or cease to be “living creatures.” I would argue that it may not be that simple. Humans are not the only species which have the breath of life (Genesis 1.30, 6.17, 7.15, 22) and breath of life seems to have a different meaning in the prophecies of the Bible. I would submit Covenant Eschatology has an answer to this when we see how “breath of life” is used in Revelation 11.11. Here the breath of life resurrects the dead witnesses symbolizing the ability of God to raise up the church, defeat her enemies, enter the presence of God and accomplish the will of God. What if this language was used in a similar in Genesis? Not so much the creation of living, breathing organisms out of inorganic material, but the separation of Man from that which would destroy him; giving him a life to live in the presence of God and accomplish the will of God. “The Fall of Adam” then is the rejection of that sanctified life, with its focus on giving glory to God, and choosing a life of self-gratification and self-glorification. So an organism has the “breath of life” when it exists in the presence of God and gives glory to God according to His designed purpose. As a result, a living creature is one which possesses the breath of life and exists in the presence of God and gives glory to God according to His designed purpose. This definition seems to fit the use of “living creature” in the Revelation 5-7, 14, 15, 17. Making the assumption that the uses of these two phrases are accurate, which may be a faulty assumption, how does this help the discussion at hand? When two human gametes meet, they create a new human organism with unique genetic make up. At that moment it exists in the presence of God, as it has not sinned to be separated from God, and has a unique purpose in the mind of God. This unique purpose has been in part determined by the genetic material God allowed to be joined at time of conception. Thus the sanctity of life is preserved from the moment of conception with these working definitions of “breath of life” and “living being” The dilemma which arises with identical twins and in-vitro fertilization also is solved with these definitions.

The Solution of Covenant Eschatology

First I will address the dilemma which arises in the case of identical twins, which I described above. Again we have two gametes joined in the God ordained way. Either something in the genetic combination or God’s providence brings about two individuals with the same genetic material. Either way from the moment of conception there exits living beings carrying out the designed will of God in His presence. What about in-vitro fertilization? In a similar way we have an organism created in the God ordained way, two gametes were joined, and a unique organism is created with the oversight of God. Remember even with in-vitro fertilization the ratio of male source gametes to female source gametes is thousands to one, so God’s providence is clearly involved in the selection of the genetic material of the new human. In my opinion, these humans need to be protected throughout their existence through the principles of justice, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. Finally I will address the related issue of genetic manipulation for the purpose of choosing the sex or creating a superior human. Using my working definitions God’s design for the genetic combination of the two gametes has been thwarted thus making this manipulation immoral. Additionally if the mechanism that decides why one male source gamete is selected over another is ascertained, for man to manipulate that process is to usurp the providence of God and is likewise immoral. The next logical question is how do these working definitions address the issues of human cloning?

The area of human cloning is where these working definitions bring about the greatest help to modern and post modern Western culture and Christianity. God has no providence over the selection of the genetic material; in fact the agent of selection of the genetic material is man. I would argue since man selects the genetic material and the cloned “egg” is created not with the union of two gametes, no “breath of life” is inserted and no “living creature” exits. If we understand the meanings of “breath of life” and “living creature” as defined above, then I submit if human cloning ever becomes possible it is appropriate to consider these cloned cells as a source of embryonic stem cells for the benefit of the person who donated the genetic material that was transferred to the egg. How could this be considered moral? First the new mammal with human genetic material was created from a man made process not a God ordained process, therefore no “breath of life” and no “living being.” Second sacrifice/killing of this new mammal, at the embryonic stage, to collect stem cells for the benefit of the original mammal could be thought of as within the realm of accomplishing the will of God.

Conclusion

What am I trying to say? First, Covenant Eschatology challenges us to bring healing to the nations is all dimensions of human existence. Second, I propose the traditional understanding of God’s action in the Garden maybe too superficial. The action of God was to breathe spiritual life into Man, that is bringing him into the presence of God, and making him a living being as a result. God’s action was not to make physical life out of inorganic material. God’s action was to create a situation where Man was in His presence, protected from what could destroy him, and could do His will. What He did in the Garden for Adam, He does for all humanity in the kingdom. Finally, with this new understanding of what it means to be a living being we can honor all human life and use the advances in modern biology and genetics to fulfill one dimension of the challenge to bring healing to the nations. I have not addressed what can and cannot be accomplished with stem cell, but I have presented a view that Christians could have no objection to the use of stem cells derived from cloned cells and yet be consistently pro-life.

I recognize this article is full of controversy and assumptions that may be invalid. I recognize I may be looking for a way to rationalize the use of embryonic stem cells to search for a cure for my daughter’s Type 1 Diabetes. I welcome comments to help mold my thinking and guide me to repentance where repentance is needed.

mazuur's picture

"Identical twins start as a single cell from the union of a male source gamete and a female source gamete. Then presumably at the two-cell stage it becomes two individuals. Biology can not answer the question when the soul was inserted into the two individuals with identical genetic material."

Maybe it isn't until the Child receives the "breath of life" from God. When God breathes into the baby's nostrils, which may not be until the moment the baby takes its first breath.

According to Gen 2:7 God formed man from the dust of the ground. Was the man alive then or probably just a functioning organism? No, it wasn't until God breathed into his nostrils that man became a living being.

Maybe a human prior to taking its first breath is merely a functioning organism (machine).

Of course the problem with thoughts concerning when life starts is we will probably never know or can know as life is spiritual. Thus, that is why abortion should be illegal. One must fall on the safe side to not murder innocent life.

Rich

-Rich

mazuur's picture

I meant to add that this too depends on one's take of "breath of life". Again, too many unanswered questions, which should cause us to side on the side of safety.

Rich

-Rich

Sam's picture

On one hand, your anti-empirical statement is what I have been saying all along. You wrote, "Biology is not helpful in this discussion since it is only interested in that which can be observed and measured." Amen. Science is not helpful at all when it comes to defining "life", "human being" and the like. Virgil was a little miffed at me for asking these questions. Metaphysical appeal to "life" (like quoting the Bible) is purely not within the realm of science, and a true thorough-going empiricist knows this. That is why I will ask you the question, the first hurdle you must cross: let's say that you may have some point here (which I don't see, but for the sake of argument). How would you bring this up to the scientific community? Quote the Bible?

It seems as if you have to FIRST define biblical phrases (like "breath of life") and words "life", etc. This is EXEGESIS. Of course, when you begin to state that a human has no "sin" in the presence of God since he was just created, you have entered into the old debate of Calvinism (see, Jonathan Edwards, Gill, and Hodge talked about this stuff a hundred years ago). Finally, you have entered into another theological debate: traducianism. Seems to me that before we can ever begin to tackle biological questions, we must first tackle THEOLOGICAL questions...but most that I read in Plan. Pret. just don't see it. Thanks for your article....and thanks for demonstrating that theory precedes practice.

Sam

Mick's picture

Sam,
Thanks for your input. I think science is helpful at some of the definitions that describe physical existence. Physically science can define life as an organism which has metabolism and can reproduce. We will not get that definition from the Bible as the Bible is not concerned with revealing all scientific facts. If you wanted to argue that is a man-made definition I would have to agree with you and I would argue it is a little arbitrary. If we took the example of a prion, which is the type of infectious agent that causes mad cow disease it would not meet this criterion for life yet viruses do. Science likes to create compartments; it makes it easier to know what people are talking about.

Science can distinguish what it is to be human as opposed to another of the created things in a variety of ways. It can distinguish organic material for inorganic material on the basis of chemical composition. It can distinguish between types of organic material on the basis of the chemical composition of the genetic material as an example, I would argue the Bible makes a scientific statement when Paul writes 1 Corinthians 15:39 (ESV)39For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. The Bible and science are friends describing the created universe using two different methods. The Bible uses the revelation of God; science through observation of what has been made (Romans 1:20).

The place to start with the scientist is to start with the enormous complexity of the physical universe, starting with what he knows as we would with anyone we wish to share the nature of God, and making a bridge to the unknown of the inspired words of God.

Mick

Mickey E. Denen

Sam's picture

Mick,

Thank you for not name-calling. Usually, at this point, some on Plan. Pret. resort to name-calling because of my anti-empirical stance. This is covered by a few articles (not written by me) on our site. Let me, though, rather, allow me to point out a few things. You argued that the definitions for biological categories are "arbitrary." Yes. The reason: "it makes it easier to know what people are talking about." Bingo. One of Adam's first tasks was to "name" (cateogorize) the animals. This is "descriptive." It is not "explanative." We could have called a "zygote" a "whoop-there-it-is-gote". The name, the word itself, is meaningless. It is the definition we give to it. The sole purpose for this is to distinguish between things, and thus is a practical purpose. However, this type of definition runs into the problem of individuation, which if you are not familiar with, is a tricky philosophical problem. Enough on that.

The Bible does not forbid our ability to "name" things one from another. The problem is when we think that that which we name becomes the "true" description of the thing, and that we can "explain" (causal reasoning) its relationships with people and things. We can't. This is to use inductive reasoning, which, as EVERY logical textbook will tell you (which logic itself will tell you), cannot ever yield an absolute statement. True scientists understand this and affirm it (as Gary Crampton wrote in an article posted by me some time ago here). Science is good and USEFUL and PRACTICAL, but when it begins to usurp its God-given role (naming animals and the like) and claim ABSOLUTE status (that is, that it can demonstrate absolute truth), then it has moved beyond its ability.

Finally, on the issue of Romans 1.20, it is interesting that you use this verse in a typically traditional interpretation. Rather, this verse is Paul railing against the Jews who were "suppressing the truth" (the gospel) in unrighteousness. Paul makes this clear through the many OT allusions in this passage from Deuteronomy, Psalms, Jeremiah, and explicitly, Hosea. He is not talking to Gentiles here. He is talking to those who were under the Law and in covenant with God, who "knew God" and understood through Bereshith (Genesis) the "created things". I wrote an entire article on this in much more detail (I have a commentary on Romans coming out soon). This is just a side note.

All in all, Mick, I appreciate your wanting to march covenant eschatology into the field of science and nature. That MUST be done since God is the God of all "life." But, I must always state: theology trumps science, not the other way around. To have it any other way leads to the exaltation of Man over God's word.

Sam

Starlight's picture

Sam,

I’d like to mix a little practical application to your analysis.

“But, I must always state: theology trumps science, not the other way around. To have it any other way leads to the exaltation of Man over God's word”

I don’t know if “theology trumps science” as long as both are misused by men. But theology and science in its purest fashion would both be of God and of course then theology (the spiritual) does indeed trump science (the physical).

It’s interesting that both YEC and OEC attempt to utilize science to explain Genesis 1 striving to read science into the language that instead appears to be covenantal by utilizing a westernized scientific approach. One does not even need to be in one of those camps to fall into that trap.
I believe that in essence you make a valid point but we have also noted over the centuries that science has been helpful in notating our misunderstanding of the “Covenantal” language from the beginning to the end of the bible. The episode of Copernicus and Galileo is just one of many where eventually science shed light on the past misunderstanding of the scriptures. To me it wasn’t the science that was significant but the beginning recognition that language in the bible should not always be read in a literalistic manner. This paradigm change eventually leads to the more accurate hermeneutical approach of “Covenant Theology” that many of us here at PP adhere to. The problem is that many are what I would still classify as “partial preterist” in that they do not employ this approach to the first portion of Genesis. This is perplexing though as the Apostle John seemed to delve heavily into early Genesis and utilized it in exactly this manner. I’m thinking of his manner of writing in his gospel where he uses the contrast of light and darkness prominently throughout his writing. He and the prophets obviously received this approach via the Holy Spirit and constantly use the Genesis metaphors throughout their writings. John especially did so in Rev 21-22 concerning the river, the tree of life and the curse. He pulled those Heavens and Earth descriptions in like manner from Isaiah who appears to have picked up on Moses’ usage from Deut 32 and Gen 1 and 2:4.
The best example may be Peter’s usage in 2 Peter 3 in his utilizing covenantal language from Isaiah and Genesis to elaborate on the coming end of the “PRESENT “ Heavens and Earth compared to the previous “world” of Noah.
In classifying the age as the “present” he appears to be relegating the former “world” as a previous Heavens and Earth.

2 Pet 3:6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire

By reading these verses we should then understand that the “world” of Noah was not just a materialistic world but was a covenantal relationship from God that was removed and replaced with another covenant and then finally an everlasting covenant. None of these last two as we rightly observe were physical in their ultimate renditions. Partial preterist want to have it both ways, they utilize science when it meets their fancy in Genesis. I propose that a literalistic reading of Genesis is defaulting to the scientific approach and therefore we should examine our presuppositions and determine if we are still reading Genesis in a scientific manner as we disavow science in the same breath.

Norm

Sam's picture

Norm,

Kind words. First off, you wrote, " don’t know if “theology trumps science” as long as both are misused by men. But theology and science in its purest fashion would both be of God and of course then theology (the spiritual) does indeed trump science (the physical)." True. This is what I have always meant.

Second, you wrote, "To me it wasn’t the science that was significant but the beginning recognition that language in the bible should not always be read in a literalistic manner." Again, quite true, in my opinion. It is a fact that geocentric mathematics was used to get a man to the moon and that there is more to the universe than "meets the eye." No one subscribes to a pure Newtonian science anymore.

Third, the account of Genesis should be read as both covenantal (connotative) and literal (denotative). In other words, when it says "moon" it means the thing you see "up there" at night. But, we know that "night" has a covenantal "meaning" (spiritual darkness) as well. It is both/and, not either/or. The point of the OEC is to take the simple word "day" and make it FIT into a scientific model. Dead wrong. It is clearly and precisely an "evening and morning...a day." This is how we are told in Scriptures to understand the "beginning." God is not revealing to us "what actually happened" in terms of quantum physics. When this phase of science has changed (and it will change), then we will seek to fit Genesis again. You are right. It is not pandering to that type of reading. However, NOTHING in science, one way or the other, can overturn the proposition that God made the universe in 6 short days. It may have well been 6 billion years or 60 gazillion years. NO ONE knows. But,we DO KNOW how God wants us to view the world around us: 6 Days, Seventh Day, Fall, Exile, Need for Restoration, Restoration in Christ. The question of science on this text, to me, is purposeless BOTH to the YEC and the OEC since neither of them can PROVE through SCIENCE their empirical hypotheses.

Sam

Starlight's picture

Sam,

The nuance that I intended in declaring the spiritual trumps the physical is that the spiritual is hope everlasting while physical is just well physical.

I do not tend to look toward science for my scriptural verification but look to scriptures for help with proper context. This is why I used the example of 2 Peter 3:6 to help in bringing clarification to the context of the flood. But you may not have picked up that I consider science useful in providing us signpost to illustrate whether we could be off course in our theology. But science is just a signal and not the answer. In my evaluation of Genesis I attempt to look at how the language has been utilized throughout the scriptures as I expect it to be consistent.

I also do not let the bible color my science as YEC do. When “good science” has been performed I will accept those science principals with reasonable doubt and hopefully usefulness. I am a strong supporter of good science and because of what I consider overwhelming evidence do consider the earth to have been created with natural laws and processes that God has instituted. And I consider the earth to have existed for millions if not billions of years. This is why the covenantal explanation of scripture has been a Godsend to my understanding as I have been freed from the tyranny of OEC and YEC convoluted scriptural work.

The question becomes whether the Genesis creation account is in a similar fashion to the other two creations of Heavens and Earths which Peter describes in 2 Peter 3 and John illustrates for us in Revelation 21 and 22. If we declare that the first creation was different from the other two are we then moving away from the consistency of scripture?

Sam you said that “God made the universe in 6 short days” I would challenge you that to insert”universe” instead of Heavens and Earth is exactly what I am stating not to do. God’s creations of the other two Heavens and Earth later did not have this physical implication applied to them and I would caution you to be careful in doing so in the first instance as well. Especially considering that Peter declared that the “heavens and earth” had been formed out of water and destroyed by water.

2 Peter 3:5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

Sam, I realize that you do not accept my approach today but I would urge you to look more carefully at Genesis as the origination of covenantal language of which all scripture is derived such as Isaiah, the gospels and Peter and John’s usage as well. I believe when the top biblical scholars such as yourself recognize this fully we will then see a tremendous new illumination as you bring your considerable language and analytical skills to bear upon this approach. Amateurs such as myself are just touching the surface of this next new Preterist frontier in Genesis. Picture again the explosion of writings that have occurred since Preterism came to bear upon Revelation and the other forlorn NT scriptures that now dance with understanding. Envision the same for Genesis in the future.

Norm

Mick's picture

Norm,
Very well said. Now it is my turn to thank you for your calm and articulate words. I too speak and write as an amateur with just enough software power to make my Bible study and conclusions dangerous.

Mick

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mick,

Yes, we are dangerous, but we’re free! This cannot be said for many of our academic brethren. They work with a constraint over their heads that I am thankful that I do not have to suffer. This is the reason amateurs are presently helpful in sorting out some of the more contentious biblical issues.

Blessings
Norm

mazuur's picture

Norm,

excellent words!

You know as I was reading your quote of 2 Peter 3:6 and its obvious (well it's obvious now that I am a preterist) meaning, I suddenly realized something. The fact that the heaven and earth that was destroyed by fire (the old covenant world) was not global, only points to Noah's flood as being non-global too. Of course I already (like you I am sure) already believed that, I just never saw the parallel in that verse before until now.

Rich

-Rich

Starlight's picture

Rich,

Yes, this is not new as Tim Martin has been pointing this out most likely until he's blue in the face. I just happened to put a take on it in a context which allowed you to see it more clearly and maybe concisely. It's a nice concept to have tucked away though.

Norm

mazuur's picture

Speaking of Tim, when is his book going to be finished? I would say I have been waiting on it very patiently, but I haven't. I can not wait for it. Anybody have any clue to when it is suppose to be finished?

And while I am on the subject of books, does anybody know when Max King's new book is going to be done? It is my understanding that he is writing a commentary on Romans, but I could be wrong. Not sure where I heard that. It might have been from Sam.

Anybody have any information on either please share it.

Rich

-Rich

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Rich,

I guarantee the wait will be worth it. It's coming, my friend.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Rich,

I had an idea that might help you pass the time.

Google "A Young Marine Speaks Out." Philip Martin is my little brother. That's the first time he's written something in public... and the last time while he's a Marine.

I guess I'll call it "beginner's luck"?

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

mazuur's picture

Sorry Tim but he is just plan full of CRAP!

Hopefully Iran is next so we don't have to worry about getting nuked in 15 years.

I love your theological writing, but if you agree with that crap then that is about all I will read coming from you.

Rich

-Rich

Islamaphobe's picture

Needless to say, I agree with you, but I shall still buy Tim and J.L.'s forthcoming book. One has to keep in mind that the liberal elements of our society have largely controlled education and the media for over forty years now, with the result that, among other things, many Americans take it for granted that this country is to blame for a large share of the world's problems. We are only now, as a nation, beginning to seriously undertake the task of understanding Islam and the Arab mindset. As a counterweight, I suggest going to this link:

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/2006/12/014384print.html, or just go to jihadwatch.org, December 12, the article by Fitzgerald.

John S. Evans

mazuur's picture

John,

Oh, I am still going to get Tim's book. I look forward to it. In fact, I can't wait for it. But it does blow my mind how somebody with the intellect, like Tim has, can be so blind and not see what is coming 15 or 20 years down the road if these middle-east nutcases are not taken care of now. And to boot they also want us to let them get their hands on nukes? Sheeeeesh...unbelievable.

These people are bent on death....period. Their is no reasoning with this people. It is either accept Islam or die. It's that simple in their minds. And they have no hesitations in cutting your throat and watching you bleed to death right in front of them. If people in this country think their hatred is for Israel only, then they are truly about as blind as one can get. Israel in merely step one. Once it is nuked, then the real problem will start.

These people weren't raised in a society where one is taught from birth that life has value. They weren't raised in a society where one is shielded from the images of death and violence thus instilling a gentle innocent spirit in a person.

Most people in America would throw-up at the site of merely killing a chicken to eat for supper. These people can cut your throat and then sit down to eat dinner and watch you bleed to death while they eat with no feeling of remorse or guilt.

Don't worry someday they'll have their eyes opened. Problem is it will probably be at the cost of their own family's life.

There is only one thing that can change their minds. That is Christ. Have much to say about that, but don't have the energy to state it.

Thanks for the link.

Rich

-Rich

Islamaphobe's picture

Thanks for the response. I agree completely with your comment. What disurbs me most about the piece by Tim's brother, however, is how he unhesitatingly villainizes George Bush and the people who happen to agree with him. Although I think Bush was in fantasyland when he thought he could democratize Iraq, I insist that, in view of Saddam's demonstrated record of incredible villainy, we could not afford to leave him standing. Is that imperialism? Like it not, we are the world's superpower and the number one target of those who would attempt to take over the world, which we are NOT attempting to do. Anyway, I hope that Tim's brother gets the hell out of the Marines in April and does not proceed to join up with the Cindy Sheehan crowd. With that article of his, though, he has a "promising" career as an activist open before him.

John S. Evans

mazuur's picture

Tim,

after reading my reply to you, I definitely sound a bit harsh. Sorry about that. I just get sick and tire of.....well forget it. Let's just say I will pass on reading your brothers message.

Rich

-Rich

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Rich,

No worries,

There are no politics in the new book.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

P.S. When Phil joined 3 years ago he saw the world just like you do. FWIW, I recommended for him to not go AWOL and finish his obligation with honor and courage. He fights like hell.

mazuur's picture

Tim,

I spent four years in the service and have been to over 10 different countries in this world. I see the world just fine. I'm thinking it might be you that needs to get out a little.

I do look forward to your book.

Rich

-Rich

MiddleKnowledge's picture

I am confidenty you will heartily enjoy it. Jeff's (JL) additional expertise takes the manuscript we have to a whole new level that I could not achieve on my own.

We are both excited at the prospects.

Blessings,

Tim

Starlight's picture

Mick,

Your article is quite informative and I really appreciate your thoughtful analysis. I do have some questions concerning birth control and morality. In reading your article you would seem to preclude the use of certain birth control measures which prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. Would you consider this a manmade application interfering with God’s purpose for a fertilized egg which would be morally objectionable? I assume blockage of the sperm from reaching the egg would be acceptable though even if it means the possible blockage of a life forming union. I also assume that any form of the morning after pill would be morally objectionable as well, for any reason even for a married couple.

Also a red flag that seemed to occur to me was your handling of cloned cells. My question would be whether we should handle them any differently than we do with twin cells as full partners of life. The reasoning I present is the thought that some country (North Korea comes to mind) that would legalize cloning of humans for the pursuit of science. If these individuals grew to maturity I would suspect that they would receive a soul from God as in the same manner that twins do. It would then become a nightmare scenario if this country then deemed them not human and used them for biological purposes or as body farms for organs. Could your rationale possibly be utilized for this sort of approach in some inhumane manner?

My instincts (which are full of baggage) tells me that any formula approach in attempting to declare the answer to these issues that you raise is in for a rough sledding, morally, theologically and practically.

I really do appreciate your approach though and hope it is a means to greater understanding and dialogue on these subjects.

Norm
PS. I also think you have correctly identified the proper method of language application in your covenantal approach to Genesis.

Mick's picture

Norm,

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree once a fertilized egg exists, through the union of a sperm cell and an egg, there exists a brand new set of genetics that never existed before, a unique human. From that point on any maneuvers by man either by making the womb hostile to implantation or attacking the infant which is implanted in the womb is clearly murder as defined by God. So indeed, some forms of contraception are clearly morally wrong. With respect to barrier methods and sterilization that is a matter of conscience in my opinion.

I believe organ farms would be morally unacceptable if they came from clones or from natural humans. I believe the use of stem cells derived from the cloning process may be acceptable as I have suggested above, but I agree there is a fine line. I wonder if the experience with Dolly the sheep has shown us that whole individuals and mature organs man made flesh and blood will be defective regardless if it is stamped “made in Korea” or “made in the USA.” ;-o

As in my reply to Tim Martin, I am not sure if the Genesis account tells us when the soul enters the human body.

Mick

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mick,

I raise these issues as there may not always be a clear proper moral choice when it comes to a fertilized egg.
I’m thinking specifically of a girl or woman who has been raped. Would you restrict their options from utilizing immediately the morning after pill to insure that if an egg became fertilized that it would not attach to the womb?
It seems their choices are severe in your designation of murder.
Do we brand a woman in this instance with the stigma of murder if she would choose to prevent this unwanted pregnancy?
Or do we relegate the girl or woman to having to bear this pregnancy which was not her choice.
I do not pretend to want to become Solomon in some of these instances. But if we are to develop a response it must be done after investigating all issues and concerns instead of dogmatically applying the standard without aforethought.

Mick we feel that we may discontinue life support when there is no brain activity. If this has been a commonly agreed medical standard for ending life where would you judge its prudence for when human life begins? At what age point do we start to record brain waves in a fetus?

These are just common questions that will naturally be raised in a discussion of this sort and should be addressed.

Norm

Mick's picture

Norm
I appreciate your sensitivity to the concerns raised in case of rape. I have four daughters and pray I will never have to help guide any of them through a rape. Even at that though I believe it would be wrong to take the life of a new human conceived through the fertilization of an egg cell by a sperm cell for any reason. My reasons are, first, it feels more like utilitarian philosophy than morality based upon the words of the God of creation and second I believe it is an opportunity for a family and a body of Christians to live out their faith by supporting a young woman in just such a situation. I believe James 1:27 applies in just such a situation. Rape and abortion are not realities of modern times. In the cases of the rape of Tamar the adultery of David and Bathsheba abortion was never considered as a solution to these immoral situations

With regard to the “morning after pill” it is more appropriate to think of it as an abortive agent than contraceptive. Fertilization can take place within hours of intercourse.

I would not label a victim as a murderer but I will acknowledge a failure on the part of her family and the church to not support her in a time of great violation.

When I was applying to medical school brain wave activity was the criteria I used life and death, which was my reasoning, in my “BC days.” The truth is brain wave activity has been recorded as early as 4 days after conception, long before most women even know they are pregnant. At the 30 day point after conception when most women start to wonder if they are pregnant, as this is when they miss their first period, human infants have arms and leg buds are not far behind. See www.abortionfacts.com for more information.

Mick

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mick,

“I would not label a victim as a murderer but I will acknowledge a failure on the part of her family and the church to not support her in a time of great violation”

I believe if one is going to be consistent with you’re position one would have to declare her a murderer or that would be in it self a form of utilitarian succumbing if one did indeed believe it was murder.

I don’t want to appear problematic Mick, but you know as well as I do that this issue when drawn in a black and white outline presents extremely difficult dichotomies that a thinking person just can’t gloss over. We can gloss over it and pretend that those questions are not there but that is not being fully honest and is not proper to adhere to. I did not even bring up the example although extremely rare of a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother. We just can’t and shouldn’t sidestep these issue altogether.

Another question I would present is if a person does not agree with you on the fertilization of the egg as the decisive beginning; but the beginning of recorded brain waves instead. Then accepts a “quasi scientifically agreed date” of say 6 weeks for intervention and believes they are in compliance with God on this matter. Would you disfellowship them if they felt they were scriptural sound especially in lieu of Romans 14.

(Rom 14:4 NIV) Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
…….Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Mick is there room for brothers in Christ to disagree on this subject?

I am not stating a position here as I’m not convinced yours is correct but simply asking questions that may help me to refine my own position more correctly. I find this an extremely difficult subject and I’m not inclined to make a position statement just to please a religious paradigm that “may turn out to be” erroneous.

I do appreciate your approach to the family and church faithfully supporting the girl/woman. In whichever decision she would make.

Norm

Mick's picture

Mick: “I would not label a victim as a murderer but I will acknowledge a failure on the part of her family and the church to not support her in a time of great violation”

Norm: "I believe if one is going to be consistent with you’re position one would have to declare her a murderer or that would be in it self a form of utilitarian succumbing if one did indeed believe it was murder."

Mick: Your are correct. Murder has occurred. Was the murder the act of the abortionist or the woman is a valid question as well? If the abortionist committed murder then is she an accomplice? When she takes an abortive agent it is more clear who committed the murder in a premeditated way. But again I wonder who is on the list of accomplices. Finally the father of the child has a level of responsibility as well in my opinion. The legal aspects of the murder of the unborn child are too difficult for me. So I leave it for God to judge and admit that murder has occurred. So I come to Jesus as he looked at the woman in adultery and said, "Neither do I accuse you. Go on your way and sin no more."

In the case of the life of the mother, I believe killing the baby is appropriate as in self-defense. I struggle with the situation if the baby is killed when the issue is the mental health of the mother, unless the mother is suicidal refractory to standard treatment of suicidal ideation.

As in all things there is always room for brothers in Christ to disagree when both come together with scripture to support their thoughts and seeking hearts motivate discourse.

Mick

Mickey E. Denen

Starlight's picture

Mick,

Thanks again for your thoughtful answers. I always find your writings in that manner. I appreciate your truthful spirit brother.

Norm

Islamaphobe's picture

Mick,

One of my regrets is that when I was a high school sophomore, I chickened out of taking biology because I was squeamish about dissecting a frog. I have become a good deal more hardened toward our world in the ensuing sixty years and am no longer squeamish about viewing blood or body parts, but my ignorance about biology has stayed with me. I did learn who Gregor Mendel was, and I have read a bit about human biology in connection with my study of Darwinism. The fact remains, however, that I am not competent to discuss human biology. Nevertheless, I read your article with intense interest and find your line of argument intriguing.

Although the Bush administration has resisted extending federal funding to embryonic stem cell research, I have no doubt that such funding will take place in due course. The mainstream media and the Democrats are determined to suggest that it will lead to all kinds of great advances, but I gather that the scientific evidence does not lend great support to the hype. Because I don't think the reality has lived up to the promise, I tend to be rather skeptical about the creation of embryonic stem cells. Even if our government continues to resist funding this research, however, we can be sure that other governments will not be so hesitant and that some would-be entrepreneurs from the private sector will leap in if they can get others, including taxpayers, to assume most of the risk. So the cloning of human embryos for scientific research purposes is going to occur, I am confident, regardless of what Christians say. If I understand your article correctly, you are suggesting that such cloning is not necessarily in violation of God's law.

From my limited reading in this area, it seems to be the case that cloned animals, like the famous "Dolly," have turned out to be disappointments from the perspective of healthfulness and longevity. It is as though there is something about the process of creating a clone that causes the mature animal to come up short biologically. Can it be that "nature"; i.e. God, is trying to tell us something about what we can and cannot do with human cloning. In any event, I concede that you may be on to something.

John S. Evans

Virgil's picture

I did not yet read Mick's article (I will try to read it tonight) but Michael Crichton has a great interview on ABC talking about some of those same things in relation to his new book "Next"; Check it out!

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=2683999

Oh, and I almost forgot...his book project is sponsored by NEXTgencode, a firm specialized in "personal genetic life enhancements." NEXTgencode has several products out like the "Permapuppy" a puppy that never gets old, the "blonde gene", and the "bug DNA 4000 kit" that allows kids to mix bugs DNA and cross-breed bugs in real time:

http://www.nextgencode.com/

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Mick,

I have to confess that some of the technical issues you've presented go over my head. But I am intrigued at your attempt to self-consciously approach this from a covenant eschatology framework. Whether I agree with your conclusions or not, I thank you for taking the effort (and risk) of putting this out there to consider. You definitely have made me think.

I had one question that relates to some work I am currently engaged. You mentioned in your conclusion that:

"I propose the traditional understanding of God’s action in the Garden maybe too superficial. The action of God was to breathe spiritual life into Man, that is bringing him into the presence of God, and making him a living being as a result. God’s action was not to make physical life out of inorganic material."

On the scene where I am currently working, Christians argue quite violently whether or not biological death took place before the fall. (The issue relates to the geological record and the age of the earth.) I believe covenant eschatology has a lot of implications on that current debate, but I'm wondering if the same principle might be relevant to human biological death before the fall?

Your above quote seems to suggest the possibility that the issue of life in the garden is primarily covenant life - biological life is not in view. We who hold covenant eschatology would usually go this direction when we run across the edenic imagery of Rev. 21-22 - particularly the tree of life which represents eternal life in Christ. Biological life does not seem to be in view there.

Here is my question. In light of your above quote, do you intend to imply that human biological death may have existed before the fall of man in Adam? Could you offer any further thoughts on that?

I thank you again for your forward-thinking work.

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Mick's picture

Tim
Thanks for the comments. As I look at the phrase “breath of life” as it is used in the Bible, I have started to have doubts about the traditional understanding of what was happening in the Garden. My doubts are fueled by the following evidence. The Hebrew phrase, נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה , appears in Genesis 1:20, 2:7, 2:19, 9:12, Job 33:22, 36:14, Psalm 78:50, Ezekiel 47:9. Sometimes the Hebrew is translated soul, other times breath of life and others life. The passage in Ezekiel seems to parallel Revelation 21and 22. These passages have led me to wonder if to have the breath of life is to be brought into the presence of God. This seems to fit well in the covenantal context of Noah, Genesis 9:16 and the description of “godless in heart” of Job 36:14. Although the phase πνεῦμα ζωῆς in Revelation 11:11 is not a direct translation of נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה (it must be very close as Genesis 6:17 uses πνεῦμα ζωῆς in the account of Noah while Genesis 9:12 uses ψυχῆς ζώσης, both translated breath of life.) I get a similar covenantal impression of bringing something into the presence of God. Observing where πνεῦμα ζωῆς is used in the Septuagint Ezekiel 1:20, 10:17, 37:5, I get the same impression. Finally, since the “breath of life” is something that may be possessed by animals, I find it difficult think of it as something that makes us be “in God’s image.” So now that I have evidence that the breath of life means to bring something or someone into the presence of God, what do I do with this information in the Genesis account?

Applying the above to Genesis 1-2 is where my thoughts get very weird. What is beings existed with the human genetics on the face of the earth. How would their fossils appear different from the fossils of humans from a few thousand years ago? Other than some minor variations due to environmental effects that would cause certain genes to be expressed and others suppressed, there would be no difference. What if God took one of these beings and brought him into a special covenantal relationship with Him? The way He had the ancient Hebrews express this was to bring this genetic human into a paradise garden and give him the breath of life. Outside the Garden genetic humans continued to exist. Inside the Garden existed humans with a covenantal relationship with God. When covenant was broken and they were removed form the Garden, these son’s of God were attracted to the daughters of men Genesis 6. These daughters of men would have been the source of wives for Adam’s sons as well.

That was a long winded way of saying that I am not sure physical life and death is even relevant to the discussion of life and death in a covenantal sense, which I believe is the essence of the Bible story. There is no reason why physical death could not have existed since it was not relevant to the story being told in Genesis 1-2. We see throughout the Bible, God calls people to Himself. This story is told over and over again.

Mickey E. Denen

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